A couple weeks ago as I was driving to the office I noticed my odometer was on 49,996 miles. My first thought was “cool” and I watched it climb as I moved through the morning commute at about 10 mph on the “express”way.
How cool is that? So often you don’t look down until too late seeing it hit 50,008 and realized that you missed that milestone. Then, as I continued at a snail’s pace I got to thinking:
That’s a long way. I wonder how far it is around the world?
So, once I got to the office a quick
WikiWally question Google search led me to the answer – the circumference of the earth is about 24.9k miles.
Wait…what? I pretty much only drive my little middle-aged commuter car to and from work. So, I have driven once around the globe just to get to work!?!? AND, I’ve driven once around the globe just to get home!?!?
And, so started a day of depression based on my commute.
Years ago Mrs. CV and I chose our home based on a number of factors, but one of them was not based on where we would be working. The logic behind that was two-fold. First and foremost we loved the area. Second, we realized that our place of business would likely change at least a few times while we lived in our house. So, had we chosen a place closen a place close to our current job it would be likely that our next job wouldn’t be close.
My commute isn’t long by milage standards (at least in California). It’s about 20 miles each way. Since a lot of it is on the freeway you’d think I could get there in probably 30ish minutes. But, given traffic and general stupidity of the average commuter it tends to take an hour each I’ve already gone over the value of allowing employees (some anyway) to work remotely. And, there are many. But, when it comes to the commute there is very little value.
My commute is pretty consistent – the milage, the time, heck I even see many of the same cars and people on the road day in and day out.
For me, it starts with getting to the freeway. Residential surface streets, kids darting in an out of traffice trying to get to school, parents doing the drop off line at schools, etc. A few miles and 15+ minutes later I queue up in line to get on the freeway at the metering lights.
Metering lights are designed to make freeway traffic move faster and more smoothly, but more often than not the freeway is still jammed and there is a line at the lights that is probably 50+ cars deep.
So, what do I do while I wait my turn? Often I listen to the radio catching up on the news of the day.
The other thing I do, is curse at the a-holes who get into the carpool lane to enter the freeway. These are desiggned for cars with 2 or more people. Yet, probably 1 out of 10 has only a single occupant. This pisses me off. But, recently I’ve seen something that makes me smile – Jonny Law sitting at the light pulling these cheats over. A minor victory for us law-abiding citizens and to which I do my best Nelson laugh.
Now that I’m on the freeway zipping down the road at 10-15 mph I watch as my fellow rat-racers zig and zag in and out of traffic trying to get too work sooner only to realize that the lane they chose is now moving slower than the lane they just vacated.
As I gaze to my right I see men shaving their face. I see women putting on makeup. Must look good while you sit all day in a cube looking at a drab gray wall and have your back toward the world.
Meanwhile on my left is an empty lane. That carpool lane where people were cheating earlier sits empty. I’ve gotta challenge the person who decidees that it makes sense to give a benefit to those few who travel with 2 or more people. I would argue that the greater good for society would be to open that lane up to all and get us to the office sooner. But, those in their infinite wisdom disagree so that lane sits virtually empty while the other 2 are packed for miles.
Further down the road as I exit onto the surface streets again, the zig zagging continues. And, then I come across the little, old Asian lady who is on a scooter in the right lane going 20 mph while all other traffic is moving at 45 mph. Who is this scootering Asian grandma and where is she going every day at 8 am? And, why is she wearing one of those green welder masks with a little brain bucket motorcycle helmet? More important, she’s forcing everyone in real vehicles to weave around her, slamming on their breaks, narrowly avoiding accidents.
Moving again…what’s that up ahead? A
Zeppelin blimp in the sky over Silicon Valley? A blimp searching for meteorites? That’s BS and a cover up I’d say (tin foil hat firmly attached). THE GERMANS ARE GOING TO BOMB US OLD SCHOOL STYLE!
Finally at the office now. A full day of hard work
strategizing about how our company is going to change the world sending emails no one wants nor will respond to.
And, guess what…in a mere 8-10 hours I’ll get to do it all over again…in reverse. Oh the joy. Was the movie Falling Down fiction?
I think The Police (the band, not Johnny Law) summed it up best in Synchronicity II with these lyrics:
Another working day has ended
Only the rush hour hell to face
Packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes
Contestants in a suicidal race
Daddy grips the wheel and stares alone into the distance
He knows that something somewhere has to break
I’ll see you all on the road tomorrow.